Those Opposing and Those in Favor of RI Cage-Free Bill
- Opposing Testimony April 5th before RI Legislators on Cage-Free Bill
On April 5th in Providence, Rhode Island, there were several supporters joining the sole egg farmer, Eli Berkowitz, Little Rhody Farms, Foster, RI in testifying before the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee considering the cage-free egg bill H7456 . The others included Will Coggin with HumaneWatch, Ken Klippen with the National Egg Farmers, Dianne Sullivan from Massachusetts who works with the National Pork Producers Council. (Sullivan led the effort that National Egg Farmers joined in opposing the Massachusetts ballot), and Dr. Scott Marshall, RI State Veterinarian. Berkowitz explained how he inherited the farm from his father and that consumers are not demanding cage-free with only approximately 15% of the production nationwide cage-free. His answers to legislators questions cleared up much confusion about egg production. Coggin attacked HSUS as lacking credibility and continues to face challenges for misconduct. Klippen showed a picture of round worm infestation from cage-free and as well as Red Mite problems for cage-free. He also referenced the research on broken breast bones from perches and the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply did not conclude cage-free to be the ideal form of producing eggs. Sullivan cited the economic impact on federal programs like WIC and SNAP. Dr. Marshall noted how veterinarians familiar with egg production are opposed to the legislation.
II. Supporting Testimony on RI Cage-Free Egg Bill
HSUS, ASPCA, “Humane” Veterinarians, and one person who has chicken pets testified in support of the RI cage-free egg bill H7456. Citing the egg industry’s own economic analysis (dating back to 2008 and California Prop 2) HSUS said the economic impact would only be one cent per egg. They also refuted claims that the cost of eggs in California continue to remain higher than the rest of the country, saying the increased cost initially was due to the outbreak of Avian Influenza. (The data Klippen provided last year in this same hearing was California egg prices were 90% higher in 2016. The year of the AI outbreak 2015, those prices were 49% higher). Other claims by the bill’s supporters were the incidence of Salmonella being higher in “battery” production. The cited the 2010 outbreak (DeCoster) resulting in a recall of millions of eggs. They claimed research has shown Salmonella is more prevalent in “battery production”. The most blatant effort by the animal activists was a veterinarian who tried to refute Klippen’s testimony saying round worms are not a food safety concern since humans cannot pick up round worms from chickens.